A team of surgeons in the United States recently carried out the most extensive face transplant ever. During the surgery, they reconstructed the entire scalp, eyelids and ears of the 41-year-old volunteer firefighter Patrick Hardison.
The team led by Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez succeeded in giving Hardison a new face after performing a 26-hour surgery. The transplanted organs were donated by 26-year-old David Rodebaugh, who died in a cycling accident.
The operation was performed in August 2015 at the NYU Langone Medical Center. At that time, the team of surgeons carrying out the process said that the operation had 50:50 chance of showing positive results.
Hardison, who got injured in a house fire when trying to save a woman he thought got trapped in the fire, suffered third-degree burns in his scalp and face. He had to wait for over a year to get a donor; he not only required the donor to have the same blood type but also needed him to be someone with light hair and fair skin.
To give Hardison a perfect transplant, two teams of surgeons had to work in unison. The first team prepared the donor and the second had to work on the recipient.
After three months of completion of the million dollar surgery, Hardison has found to be healing nicely. However, he has a problem too; he will need to take anti-rejection medications all through his remaining life. This is essential to ensure that his immune system doesn’t start fighting against the transplanted organs.
Dr. Rodriguez said that as far as his knowledge is concerned, only around five people receiving facial transplants have died after their immune system rejected the new tissue. When addressing the media, he said that although facial transplants are not new, surgeons have never transplanted such high amount of tissues as he and his team has done in Patrick.
Through the procedure, the surgeons have restored Hardison’s eyelids, the blinking mechanism of his eyelids, eyebrows, ears, and scalp. Right now, the 41-year old has a full head of hair and has also grown stubble. Within a few months, he will need to undergo some more surgeries for getting the loose skin around his lips and eyes removed.